According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there is no evidence the coronavirus is spread by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces, but several news outlets have picked up a story about researchers who have tested common home and hospital materials. In two of the stories, it’s noted that COVID-19 likes plastic and stainless steel surfaces best and can last on those surfaces for up to three days compared to up to 24 hours on corrugated.
There is no evidence to support transmission from products or packaging. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled and exposed to different conditions and temperatures is also low.
Additional information is available from the CDC and EPA to help educate the public on the differences between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing methods:
Cleaning: Removes germs and dirt from surfaces, typically through soap and water. This method lowers germ numbers but doesn’t usually kill or destroy them. Cleaning surfaces is a first step, prior to disinfection.
Disinfecting: Kills surface germs through disinfectant chemicals, which do not necessarily clean visibly dirty surfaces or remove germs. To properly disinfect, products often need to remain on a surface for 3-5 minutes.
Sanitizing: Kills germs, but not as effectively as disinfecting. While some products can be used to do both, disinfecting generally requires more time and work. Sanitizing is often easier to accomplish, and still contributes to reducing the risk of infection.
For the most up-to-date information on work environments, companies should refer to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and OSHA.
What About Delivered Packages?
The surge in deliveries, including more food deliveries as restaurants are closed across the country, has led to the question of whether people can contract COVID-19 from packages. The CDC said the chances of getting coronavirus from delivered packages is likely very low. Infectious disease experts still recommend leaving packages outside for a day if possible.
However, workers at some of the country’s top delivery companies have indicated that procedures may need improvement to keep everyone save from the illness. UPS said in a statement that it has been disinfecting its facilities and vehicles daily, providing sanitizing supplies to all drivers and telling sick employees to stay home. Similar policies have also been in effect at FedEx and the U.S. Postal Service. UPS and FedEx have also stopped requiring in-person signatures for most package deliveries to follow social distancing guidelines.